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“Artsy Affair” Saves Lives

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Photo: Anisha Virani

On Saturday, October 1, Marina Ouano and Antonina Kurtova were finally able to reap the benefits of months of preparation for their second annual, “Artsy Affair” Cocktail Party that also served as an art auction for patients at Texas Children’s Hospital. The soiree took place on Sunset Blvd in the Germillion & Co Fine Art building and had a fundraising goal to help children in Russia as well as in the United States.

“We want to support children here and also support children in Russia. We also want to make sure that the availability of cancer treatment does not depend on the country where you were born, or the finances you have in your pocket. It should be based solely on progress of cancer treatment and cancer research,” said Kurtova

Kurtova and Ouano’s determination to save lives led them to plan their first art auction last year, which raised enough money to help several patients receive medications, treatments, and travel lodging. Second opinions are another very important factor in cancer survival that the “Artsy Affair” is attempting to make more available to foreign patients.

“Doctors will say, ‘There’s nothing else we can do.’ We have had a couple of patients like that…we already knew about the medication for the lymphoma that the patients had. We had them come here to the US….and now they are both doing well,” said Ouano.

Though the event coordinators enjoy the planning process of the fundraiser, for them, it is all about the results.

Photo: Anisha Virani

“When a patient has to undergo a bone marrow transplant, they basically have to pay for it, and it costs about €25,000,” said Kurtova.

The two women use their events to curb the costs to the families of cancer patients as much as possible and they have seen success thus far, which can be attributed to both their hard work and the work of other volunteers.

“We are run completely by volunteers,” said Kurtova, “we all have main jobs and are doing this as a side activity.”

Last year’s benefit marked an ambitious start to the program’s existence.

“None of us had experience with doing this before, or with doing fundraisers,” Ouano said.

“Definitely,” said Kurtova, “we have made some mistakes on our way, but each year we are gaining more and more experience and attracting more and more people.”

The popularity of the first event was the catalyst for second, and already Ouano and Kurtova are planning to have events for years to come.

“But this year, we are kind of in a building stage because we are not really well

known in Houston. We are taking steps to attract more sponsors and grow every year,” Kurtova said.

For Ouano, Kurtova and Texas Children’s Hospital, it’s important that patients realize that there is so much more available to them than they may assume. The “Artsy Affair” was created by them not only to save lives, but to broaden prospective.

“This year we’ve brought art from Russia as well as Texas Children’s to show

that children are the same.  No matter what, they are children.  They can suffer from the same types of cancer and go through similar experiences,” said Ouano.

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